Real Spellers

English Makes Sense!

Helping to proofread the ToolBox for online use is proving to be an absolutely wonderful opportunity to delve into it again more deeply. Having utilized it now for nearly a decade, usually dipping into it for something in particular only to climb out several hours later from the many rabbit holes I meandered through, and, originally, mistakenly taking it as the word of God, this time I am part of a team going through it methodically, looking at it purposefully with a critical eye. In that spirit, I will attempt to share some observations along the way.

In Kit 2L, page 5, when introducing the two homophones /wi:k/, Real Spelling prefaces by saying there are two graphemic possibilities: <week> and <weak>. Being the defiant person I can be, I immediately thought, “What about <weke>?” As is so often the case, as soon as I think something, Real Spelling goes on in more detail about that exact something.

“The letter string < eke > is not found in the spelling of Modern English elements. The spelling < weke > is, then, not available for / wiːk /.”

But, me thinks, “eke” is a verb (to eke out a living) native to Old English, which defies this assertion. Another lesson in interrogating all resources! Though it is true that, at least to my knowledge and a look at Neil Ramsden’s Word Searcher, there aren’t any other native English words that utilize this letter string, “not found” is not accurate and would seem to indicate that “not available” isn’t either. Despite it seemingly never used again, I think there is evidence for the possibility. So why isn’t it? I don’t have an answer but hopefully will recognize one if and when I come across it. Eek!

Comments (2)

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So interesting, Brett. You are perfect for this task of ferreting out the fascinating and the confounding. I am so curious about the statement "not found"--but this process of re-considering and re-configuring is so important. Real Spelling will applaud all of it!

I was interested to see in the Word Searcher that the word <peke> was there, including its plural, but I can find no definition for it. And, as it happens, I immediately knew a word that does have this letter string but isn't in the Word Searcher: that word is <deke>. It is, I believe, a uniquely Canadian word, referring to a move in hockey where one feints one way to draw a goaltender for a shot, only to zip around to shoot to the other side. I'd never investigated it; turns out to be a clip of <decoy>, so not a complete English word anyway. But its spelling apparently evolved from <deek> to <deke> so perhaps some hockey player felt they could eke out a win with that unconventional spelling.

Skot Caldwell
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What a great word, Skot! Even growing up in the hometown of the Montreal Canadiens, I never went to hockey games (my family followed Canadian football) and I have never heard of <deke>. It's a great addition to the story of <eke>, especially with its history of a spelling change from <deek>.

Comment was last edited about 7 months ago by Gail Venable Gail Venable
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